First day of deer season quiet
Mike Pealer of Franklin Park was multitasking Monday.
Yesterday was opening day of the state’s firearms deer season, and he was in the woods of state game land 203 near Wexford, looking for deer. He also was checking his Blackberry periodically, in case his pregnant wife called to say she was headed to the hospital to deliver their third child. And he was responding to work e-mails, too.
All that, and he could have killed a deer.
He’d seen four whitetails, two sublegal bucks and two does, one of which he could have put in the freezer.
“She came to within a couple yards of me and just stared. I stared back at her and then she did her little foot-stomping thing. Finally she decided she didn’t like me, whatever I was, and pranced off, but even then she kept stopping. I could have had her 100 times,” Pealer said.
He didn’t shoot, wanting to wait at least a little while for a big buck to come by. But he planned to return to the woods after lunch with his dad and brother-in-law, Mike Pealer Sr. and Perry Myers, respectively, both of Coraopolis.
They were optimistic they might yet find deer.
“There are some big ones here running around,” said Mike Pealer Sr., noting that he’d seen a large-racked buck while scouting in small game season. “And there’s more than that one, based on all of the sign I saw.”
They did not have a lot of competition for those deer yesterday. As is usually the case, there were relatively few hunters to be found in Allegheny County, said Beth Fife, a wildlife conservation officer there for the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
“It’s usually pretty slow here on the first day because guys go away to camp to hunt,” Fife said. “But as the week goes along, it will get busier as guys hunt close to home or after work, and Saturday will be polluted.”
Elsewhere, hunting pressure — and hunter success — was mixed.
Hunters were numerous in Armstrong County early in the morning, but many seemed to have quit by mid-afternoon, said wildlife conservation officer Gary Toward.
“It started out OK in the morning and then just really slowed down,” Toward said.
The action was equally slow in northern Butler County.
“I think the hunter numbers seemed to be down, to be honest with you,” said conservation officer Chip Brunst. “And the hunters I talked to were saying the same thing, that the hunting pressure seemed to be light. They said you could tell when someone got a deer up because you’d hear a few quick shots, but then everything would get quiet for a while.”
Scott Myshin on Monessen had experienced much the same thing hunting on state game lands 296 in South Huntingdon Township.
“Here, the shooting’s been very sporadic for the first day. Normally from 7 to 8:30 or so you hear a lot of shooting, but there was hardly anything,” he said.
Hunters were doing better elsewhere, though. In Greene County, conservation officer Rod Burns said he’d seen 20 or so bucks killed, all of them 8 points and bigger. Conservation officer Travis Anderson in Somerset County had seen fewer bucks, but some as large as 10 points with 18- and 19-inch spreads.
Officers were kept busy investigating cases of hunters illegally using bait in Butler and Westmoreland counties, a report of a 13-year-old left hunting alone in Armstrong and a death that turned out to be a suicide in Somerset. But there had been no hunting accidents locally as of mid-day, said Tom Fazi, a supervisor in the commission’s southwest region office in Bolivar.
“It’s been busy,” Fazi said, “but it’s been a quiet busy, I guess is a good way to say it.”